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The Referral Puzzle

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When we started our health club we were on a shoe string budget. I know you can likely relate. Our investment went into the lease, equipment, build-out, etc. We didn’t have much money for marketing. But you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton on marketing in order to sell a lot of memberships. Referrals are a great, cheap way to boost sales.

It first starts during the member tour. Setting the tone to ask for a referral, you must build some rapport. Get them to like and trust you. The best way to do this is to be genuine.  Come from a place of helping and assistance. Once you have accomplished this, even if you don’t close the deal immediately, you have earned the right to ask them for others who may be interested. Be sure to have a referral sheet handy at the point of sale.

The second piece of this referral puzzle comes from a mission that is focused on your engagement with the prospect. People like and trust those they know. Create a relationship of sorts. They may be members, but they are people just like you, so when staff looks at each person as a chance to engage, they are one step closer to winning more business through referrals. People talk, and what better way to spread the word than to have members talking about you everywhere they go?

The third piece is results. When a person joins, they join because they like you or your staff, as well as price and amenities. Now they want to get results. So, the best way to get referrals is to give the member advice, suggestions and tools to get them to accomplish these goals. Show them, don’t tell them. When you show you care and follow through, you win not only a loyal member, but a pipeline of unlimited referrals. Now you are the local fitness guru and you have built a member base of word-of-mouth advertising.

Via this approach, after 15 months in business we can still claim we’ve spent $0 on direct mail marketing and over 60 percent of our membership base came through referrals.

Marcus Shanahan is the co-founder of R2 Total Fitness. For more information, he can be reached at mshanahan@r2managementgroup.com.

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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